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Re: access office computer from home

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funny how this seems to be more common these days: working from home at
night. we are working more and more (myself included). like the 60+ hours
are not enough to satisfy anyone anymore.  i think first and formost you
need to look at what/why before you ask how. what are you as the employee
are willing to do. then as well there is the issue of what the employer is
obligated to pay for.

when it comes down to it, its pandoras box.

we are too often noble enough to sacrifice our personal lives (read: finance
the company) to get our job done. if you work at home 5-10 hours per week,
and even with your computer your employer is getting the benefit or you
paying for the tools, the electricity, phone bill etc... i remember when 4
years ago a widely published study was used to lobby for the purchase of
employee laptops. the study concluded that the investment of a laptop
($2500) would pay itself off faster that a lease could pay for it since on
average a user would produce income with it an average of 5 hours per week.
what the stduy did not address was the impact that it had on our lives. as
salaried professionals those precious hours are billed to clients and we see
no real benefit. this is not a perfect world. i hope that you/your employer
had addressed these issues.

now for the how. your email was not specific enough about what you expect to
do.  if you want to dial to something like a terminal server or pc anywhe
and be able to run a sap/etabs analysis or do autocad forget it. dial up
won't cut it.  if you want to dial in and dld a spreadsheet or doc and work
on it localy, then the dial-in options discussed work on the cheap/small
side.  you will find that after a while you will  lust for a faster
connection.  you just have to remember to upload your files later. its often
simpler or easier to sneaker-net it w/floppies or zip disks. you will find
that you also will want sw at home which might void some of your sw
liscecensing aggreements. also keep in mind the whole dongle or dongle
server thing. if you load a program that wants a dongle or dongle server,
you will have that overhead in your dial in communication too, or risk
forgetting the dongle at home!

the vpn solution, is a decent solution (virtual private networking).  vpn
essentially is encripting the network traffic on the fly.  it is a good
system, especially if the office is already on the internet via leased line
or dsl. you really should by all reccomendations use a dedicated piece of
hardware or software for vpn. even though m$ offers it as part of exchange
2000 doesn;t make it right. m$ is trying to rool as much into exchange as
possible.  keep in mind that you will have server load, liscencing issues
and stability issues if you go that route. the 'built in' flavors of vpn or
vppn in win98/2000 are not the nicest things either. yea they work, but
barely and have some serious security holes in them.  the other nice thing
about vpn is you can set things up so that you create an extranet for
distributed workgroups. or if you are travelling and need to get to the
office you can use you laptop to connect. you can use a web interface and
get in from a cleint;s office too!

a REAL vpn server basicly acts a bridge to you network. its secure and its
safe and if it gets breached or goes down, then only it and users from home
get affected (really not a mission critical peice of equipment). you log
into the network through it just as your workstation logs in to the
servers/printers on the lan.  if your users are working over dial up to an
isp you are no better off than dial-up for speed. the overhead of tcp-ip
even with 56k vs 33.6 is a wash. it does save you the cost of the dial in
lines and modems.

a real box will cost you $2K-$4K installed, configured, training. its worth
the money.

have a look at compatible systems, now part of cisco,  at  they have some good docs and white
papers that can assit you in assesing your needs. there are other manuf's
out there. this is not a meant to be a shamelss plug. find a reputable
dealer/integrator to install it. (very important) i have successfuly
implemented it in a large office (400+ people). the vpn box worked great (i
must say that i am no longer with that organization, but by all accounts it
is still working). there is a small peice of sw that has to be installed on
the 'client' computer but overall its a great setup. there are others out
there, but i have experience with this one.

with the cost of bandwith decreasing then dsl/cable access at home is
affordable. full time access at the office is propably already there.

again i remind you that as an employee need to have some sort or
reimbursment or compensation for at least the infrastructure and resources
that you are using at home to do your work. it could be a simple a the
company pays for your dsl service/second phone line/etc... in exchange for
the use of your equipment/power/phone. don;t give it away for free!

d. pantazis, pe

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